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TWENTY-SIX

          Jean and I turn right out of The Southern Grill, heading south a single block, walking hand in hand on Flagler. I smile as we walk beneath the street lights, crossing Flagler when we get to Treaty Oak Park. “It’s nice to see him, isn’t it?” Jean asks.

           “Very,” I respond, nodding my head slowly three times and squeezing her hand. “Did I do okay?” I ask as we step up to the sidewalk on the east side of the street.

          Jean tilts her head, eyebrows scrunched together. “In what way?” she asks. “Keeping us safe from harm back at the bar?” she adds with a little elbow jab to my too squishy waist.

             “Haven’t been attacked yet, have we?” I ask, my tongue pushing hard on the lower right side of my mouth, creating a visible bump beneath my lip. “No!” I admonish softly, “In not saying anything that might seem to Tonyish to Loren.”

                 “Oh! Right. I forgot. Yes,” she says nodding slowly, “you did well. For you.”

                 “Ow! Thanks for nothing!”

                 “Tony, you know you don’t  have a filter.”

                “Ha! You’d be amazed by all the things I don’t say,” I respond as we walk into the hotel lobby and turn toward the stairs. “Know what would be good right now?” I ask as I hold the fire door open.

               “Yes, Tony, I do.”

           “Cookies!” I reply loudly as the door closes behind us and we ascend the stairs to room 314.

            In the room I kiss Jean and walk into the bathroom as she slips her shoes off, turns the TV on, grabs her kindle and flops on the bed.

          In the bathroom I consider and then reject a shower as I swipe the dentifrice dabbed toothbrush quickly around my mouth. Slipping off my clothes before I leave the bathroom, I kick them in a corner of the room and make my way to the far side of the bed before sliding my naked form between the sheets of the room’s king-sized. Just as I reach for Jean she roles away from me on her side of the bed, my right hand reaches over, plucks at the bottom of her shirt as she continues to roll away from me, the only concession to my halfhearted attempt at romantic embrace a wry smile and tiny hand pat. I’m alone in our bed, thoughts of carnal delight dancing through my head as Jean slinks between the bed and the hotel room’s wall. She makes for the bathroom and her evening’s ablutions as I close my eyes and wait in eager anticipation of enjoying the delights of my mate. I wait and then fall fast asleep, naked, exposed and vulnerable.